Giving home portfolio to NCP a mistake: Chavan


Mumbai : Two days after the triple bombing in the metropolis, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Friday said the Congress’s decision to concede the key home portfolio to its coalition partner Nationalist Congress Party was “a mistake”.

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Replying to questions on security following last Wednesday’s three blasts, Chavan told a private television channel (NDTV) the division of portfolio was first agreed upon in 1999 when the two parties first bagged power in Maharashtra.

That pattern of portfolios division was based on the formula which was adopted by the erstwhile Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition which ruled between 1995-1999.

In that, the junior partner BJP was given, among other important portfolios, home, finance & planning.

“I think it was a mistake and we should have re-looked at it. I do not know of any other coalition government where the home, finance and planning portfolios are not with the chief minister,” Chavan said in the interview.

Chavan’s statement has come at a time when the NCP’s Home Minister R.R. Patil has once again come under fire after the triple blast.

In the wake of the Nov 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks, Patil had quit from the post, owning moral responsibility for the incident.

Chavan, however, qualified his statement by saying that the Congress-NCP partners are “almost equal” in strength, as compared to West Bengal or the centre where the majority partner is supported by other smaller parties in the government.

He also denied that there were any major problems or internal contradictions in the junior partner NCP holding the home portfolio.

“There are difficulties… at times…decision-making takes time. But I think it’s part of coalition politics,” Chavan said.

In the same interview, Chavan also mentioned that he could not reach top city and state police officers for 15 minutes after the three blasts which killed 17 and injured 131 Wednesday evening.

Terming the situation as “very serious”, Chavan said this was due to a complete collapse of the mobile communication networks in the city on account of severe congestion of the lines immediately after the blasts.

Now, the government is contemplating having a network of satellite phones or setting up a secure communication network.

However, an aide told IANS later that the chief minister was very much in contact with top police officers through the police wireless communication system.

Reiterating Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s statements, Chavan emphasized that there was no intelligence failure which led to the blasts.

“We routinely monitor electronic equipments, nothing came up, and there was no lead from Delhi,” he said.